Petiska > Pets > Birds > Budgerigars > Ataxia in Budgies [Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments]
Leslie Berry
Petiska Editor

Ataxia in Budgies [Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments]

What is ataxia in budgies? Ataxia in budgies refers to an inability to coordinate the voluntary movement of muscles, which is caused by nerve or spinal cord damage.

Ataxia also has two types. The deficiencies cause the first type, while genetics causes the second type.

Ataxia is a result of damage to the spinal cord, brain, or inner ear areas.

The budgie becomes wobbly or clumsy when in the disease’s first stages. Also, they try to stand with their legs spread apart for balance. Besides, they begin to use their beaks to stabilize their movements.

In the late stages of the ataxia, budgies generally lose muscular abilities. For instance, sitting on the perch without falling off is one of the most known symptoms.

Ataxia types in budgies

Ataxia occurs for two reasons. Both reasons cause similar symptoms and consequences.

What causes ataxia in budgies?

Ataxia is caused by nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin E, calcium, selenium, or genetics.

Deficiency ataxia

Of course, the ataxia that is caused by deficiency is the most common.

Generally, newbie budgie breeders and fanciers without enough experience may cause this type of ataxia.

Budgies need a wide variety of foods including seeds, greens, fruits, and insects (for protein).

But, inexperienced budgie owners are feeding the budgies seed-only diets. Without a doubt, long-term seed-only diets cause vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiencies.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies also damage the normal biological systems of a budgie body.

Hereditary ataxia

Hereditary ataxia occurs by natural genetics. This ataxia type is rarer than the ataxia which is caused by deficiencies.

Hereditary ataxia also causes the inability to coordinate the voluntary movement of muscles.

But, even if a budgie has hereditary ataxia, it is hard to know which type of it is. Because the symptoms are the same.

Ataxia symptoms in budgies (diagnosis)

The disease has easy-to-understand symptoms.

Because it is a progressive disease in time, most budgie owners report the same symptoms in order.

Ataxia symptoms are listed as follows:

  • Loss of balance
  • Fall over the perches
  • Faint
  • Heat strokes
  • Trying to stand with legs spread apart for balance
  • Using beaks to stabilize the movements
  • Loss of coordination of head, wings, or legs.
  • Lethargy (constant sleep and inactivity)
  • Loss of breathing ability behaviors such as stretching neck, leaning forward to breathe, opening mouth breathing, bobbing tail, puffing out cheeks, etc.

How does ataxia cause loss of balance in budgies?

Ataxia damages both the nervous system and muscular systems. The spinal cord, inner ear brain, and muscles are the most damaged parts of the budgie body.

Damaged muscle systems and nervous systems cause the loss of balance in budgies.

Can ataxia kill budgies?

Yes, ataxia can kill the budgies. Damaged muscle and nervous systems cause the loss of ability to move, breathe, stand, etc. Budgies often suffocate to death due to breathing difficulties.

How to treat ataxia in budgies?

Ataxia is a serious and fatal disease. Therefore, veterinary care and treatment are essential.

If you consider your budgie showing the ataxia symptoms, you should take your budgie to the vet as quickly as possible.

Oftentimes, veterinarians will hospitalize budgies.

Veterinarians treat the ataxia with the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal medicines
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Injectable medications
  • Subcutaneous fluids
  • Chelating agents
  • Extra vitamins and minerals
  • Recovery chamber/warming cabinet

The treatment of ataxia is a hard process that a veterinarian should control. Because it is not a single-stage process, there should be an expert eye for the next steps.

Home treatment for ataxia in budgies?

It is not advised to try to treat budgie ataxia at home only. But, it would be good if you help your budgie at home until you take it to the vet.

Home treatment for ataxia includes the followings:

  • Removing perches or swings for possible falling
  • Putting water bottom of the cage for easy reach to the water
  • Giving easy to eat foods and putting them bottom of the cage for easy reach
  • Keeping the room temperature between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius)
  • Supporting nutrition with vitamin and mineral supplements. Especially vitamin E, calcium, and selenium.

Ataxia is a progressive disease. Therefore, you are in luck if the symptoms disappeared with the above directives. However, if the symptoms still persist, you should go to the vet immediately.

Why does my budgie keep falling off its perch?

The most common reason for budgies to fall off their perches is ataxia. Ataxia damages the nervous and muscular systems, the spinal cord, brain, and inner ear areas. They lose the ability of perching because of the damaged and weakened nervous and muscular systems.

Neurological conditions while ataxia

Ataxia is a disease that damages the neurological systems, such as the nervous and muscular systems. With the result that, the budgie begins to lose neurological abilities such as perching, standing up, breathing, eating, and drinking.

Respiratory conditions ataxia

Ataxia damages the muscular system of the respiratory system. Therefore, the budgie begins to hard-breathing. Besides, ataxia may cause death by suffocation in the later stages of the disease.

Why does my bird seem drunk and wobbly?

Ataxia damages the nervous and muscular systems. Because of this, budgies begin to lose their ability to control muscles. In the early stages of ataxia, budgies appear drunk and wobbly.

Can birds recover from ataxia?

Ataxia is a nervous and muscular system damaging disease. The disease is also progressive. Therefore, taking your budgies to the vet as soon as possible is extremely important.

A budgie may recover from ataxia with early diagnosis and treatments. But, even if the progression of the disease stops, the symptoms may remain.

How long can a budgie live with ataxia?

A budgie may have a short lifetime with ataxia. Ataxia prevents budgies from standing, breathing, eating, and drinking properly. For this reason, a budgie with ataxia can’t live a few weeks without human care.

Is ataxia in budgies fatal?

Yes, ataxia is fatal in budgie. Ataxia damages the nervous and muscular systems. As a result, budgies begin to lose control of their bodies over time. Eventually, budgies cannot stand, breath, eat, drink, and die.